Osteoarthritis affects approximately 27 million Americans. It's the gradual degradation of cartilage, which is essential for cushioning our joints. Damaged, inflamed, and weak cartilage causes pain. But what causes the cartilage to wear out as we get older?
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN found that mice who had senescent cartilage cells injected into their knee joints displayed symptoms of osteoarthritis. Mice who received injections of non-senescent cartilage cells were free from the symptoms.*
Senescent cells are cells that have stopped dividing, or simply put, stopped doing a good job. As we age we get more of these low-performing cells and they build up in joint cartilage (and elsewhere in the body), causing the cartilage to underperform.
Now that the study has found a causal link between senescent cells and osteoarthritis, it's up to the field of medicine to figure out if targeting those cells will help people get better, and if so, how. While we watch and wait for the research to move in the right direction, there are great treatments for osteoarthritis available today. Anti-inflammatory medications, injections, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, orthotics, and in more advanced cases, surgery, can greatly improve symptoms.
A well-trained and experienced board certified orthopedic doctor and surgeon is the best health professional to properly diagnose and treat osteoarthritis. He or she can set up a custom treatment plan that works for your lifestyle and goals. It will be based on your health history, a thorough examination, and you and your doctor's opinions about how best to proceed. It's most common to start with conservative treatments and if you don't respond well to those, move toward injections or surgery. Everyone is different, but our doctors are committed to improving your symptoms as much as possible. Many patients end up pain free and others improved and able to do more activities they love.